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Blackshire at Lakewood Shores Resort
by Art McCafferty

It looks like Kevin Aldridge has done it again. The young architect who stunned the Michigan golf world with his unique Gailes design in 1992 is rolling out another show stopper -- the new Blackshire course at Lakewood Shores Resort.

Aldridge used New Jersey's Pine Valley for his inspiration. Pine Valley, one of America's, and yes, the world's most revered courses, was designed by non-professional golf architect George Crump. Crump, a Philadelphia businessman was struck one day by the harshness of marsh and pine tree-laden land he was hunting on in western New Jersey. He began to visualize how such land would make a great golf course location. It was his dream to build a course that would stand up to the flat bellies of that era that were humbling the existing courses by shooting scores in the 60s.

Crump hired H.S. Colt to design the course and then spent the next eight years in a bungalow he built near the course. In those eight years, 14 holes were built. Unfortunately, Crump was not to see his masterpiece finished as he died with four holes left to create. However, friends of Crump raised the money to keep his dream alive. They hired Hugh Wilson (Merion) to finish the last four holes. To Crump's credit, the Pine Valley layout was one of the toughest courses in the world for a number of decades. It was an "examination in golf," according to Bernard Darwin, a correspondent from The Times of London and a great player of that era.

George C. Thomas, Jr. in his seminal work, Golf Architecture in America, originally published in 1927 and reprinted in 1997, presented a number of photographs of the early Pine Valley. The photos show a very rugged and imaginative course. The key to Pine Valley and thus the new Blackshire course is the intricate weaving of waste areas and vegetation throughout the course. I toured this course with Craig Peters, the director of golf for Lakewood Shores Resort. The soggy weather limited our access somewhat, but I saw enough to pique my interest. I was struck by the waste areas and the impact that they will have on the course. I caught a couple of new holes on video and you can see Peters describe them on michigangolfer.tv under the "golf shorts" heading.

Peters feels that golfers will really have an opportunity to golf three different styles of golf course at the Lakeshore Resort. They can play the Serendella, the original course by legendary Michigan golf architect W. Bruce Matthews. Or they can play Aldridge's award winning Gailes and now, the new Blackshire. Oh yes, there is also the "Wee Links" course, a par-3 course that serves as a practice area or an area for evening putting or short-game matches for golfers who are kicking back after 18 or 36 at the resort.

Much like the Gailes course, golfers will need to visit the new Blackshire to really appreciate what Aldridge has accomplished.

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